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Suzanne Johanningsmeier

USDA-ARS Research Food Technologist

Schaub Food Science Building, Room 322E

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Official email:

Area(s) of Expertise

Suzanne Johanningsmeier is a Supervisory Research Food Technologist and Lead Scientist with the United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Southeast Area, Food Science and Market Quality & Handling Research Unit in Raleigh, NC. The goal of her research program is to develop the scientific basis for improving product quality and healthfulness, reducing processing wastes, and advancing the science of fruit & vegetable preservation. Current research areas include 1) characterization of the chemical, physical and sensory properties of pickled vegetables and sweetpotatoes in relation to product quality and shelf-life; 2) retention and production of health-promoting compounds during lactic acid fermentation of vegetables; 3) salt reduction in commercial brining operations; and 4) development of advanced analytical methods for metabolite profiling and quantification of small molecules in fresh and processed fruits and vegetables.

Website & Publications:

Service Activities

  • Institute of Food Technologists, Board of Directors, 2024-2027
  • Scientific Advisor to Pickle Packers International, Manufacturing and Technology Committee, 2011-present
  • FBNS Doctoral Written Preliminary Exam Committee, Chair, 2014-present, Chemistry Discipline Chair, 2011-2014
  • Institute of Food Technologists, Food Chemistry Division, 2019-2023
  • Institute of Food Technologists, Dogwood Section Leadership, 2014-2017
  • Invited lecturer in the Acidified Foods GMP School, 2012-2018
  • Phi Tau Sigma, Lifetime member, Local Section Leadership, 2012-2017
  • Invited lecturer in experimental design and data analysis for an undergraduate senior design course, FS/BBS 475 Problems and Design in Food and Bioprocessing Science, 2009-present


  • Redefined the basic understanding of the chemical stimulus that elicits sour taste in foods and solutions.
  • Demonstrated that reduced salt sauerkraut fermentation is viable through application of a robust starter culture.
  • Discovered that a specific lactic acid bacterium, Lactobacillus buchneri, and a closely related species, L. parafarraginis were key players in the initiation of spoilage of fermented cucumbers, depicted their metabolic roles, and characterized 7 unique strains of L. buchneri from a single environmental niche.
  • Developed a nontargeted, comprehensive 2-dimensional gas chromatography-time-of-flight mass spectrometry (GC×GC-TOFMS) platform for metabolomic characterization of fermented foods, enabling the detection of thousands of compounds from more than a dozen compound classes.
  • Conducted translational research for the implementation of ARS-developed preservation technologies in commercial-scale cucumber fermentation using calcium brines for reduced environmental impact. Led the product quality studies and identified areas for future optimization of fermented cucumber quality retention.
  • Developed a rapid method for estimating acrylamide content in fried potatoes using near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) and collaborated with breeders to understand the chemistry of sweetpotato varieties that will produce less acrylamide and reduced browning in popular fried products like chips and French fries.
  • Determined the consumer acceptability of sweetpotatoes of differing varieties and cooking methods, described the sensory texture attributes of sweetpotato French fries prepared from diverse genotypes and developed a universal sensory lexicon for characterizing the eating quality of sweetpotatoes to facilitate global breeding of consumer-preferred, nutritious sweetpotato varieties.
  • Discovered that bioactive peptides are formed during lactic acid fermentation of cucumber using a novel, direct analysis mass spectrometry technique.
  • Revealed that fermentation of cucumber in low-salt brines enhances the content of GABA, a health-promoting compound in pickles.
  • Demonstrated that a brief whole cucumber blanching process could be used to improve the safety and quality of refrigerated pickles.
  • Developed a sensory lexicon for evaluation of quality traits in fresh and processed peppers.


Ph.D. Food Science North Carolina State University 2011

M.S. Food Science North Carolina State University 1999

B.S. Food Science Purdue University 1995